Improve Your Personal Cyber Security

man holding credit card looks at computer screen

from NCOA

Avoiding Scams and Fraud for Older Adults:
How Older Adults Can Improve Their Personal Cyber Security

The web can be a rich source of information, connection, and community for older adults—something that became even clearer during the COVID-19 pandemic. But as with any public space, you need to be aware of your surroundings. There are many online scams that target older adults, and their number and sophistication continues to grow. In 2022 alone, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported that 88,000 people age 60 and over collectively lost $3.1 billion dollars to internet fraud, with cryptocurrency and technical support schemes topping the list of complaints.

“Cyber criminals prey on older adults for a simple reason,” explained Genevieve Waterman, NCOA’s Director, Economic & Financial Security. “And it’s because they are more likely to have money, earned during a lifetime of employment.”

Perceived memory issues and a sense that older adults are more trusting play into it, too, she said.

But you don’t have to resign yourself to becoming a victim. Scammers may be sophisticated—but there are smart ways to safeguard against them. Think of cyberspace as the freeway: you have to navigate it defensively. Just like fastening your seatbelt, using some basic internet safety practices can help ensure that your online experience is safe and enjoyable. We’ve outlined four top cyber security tips below.

  1. Don’t click on links in emails from unfamiliar senders. Be wary of any strange or unexpected messages, even if it’s from someone you know.
  2. Don’t open any attachments unless you know the sender and were expecting them to send it.
  3. Ignore unsolicited phone calls and “robocalls.”
  4. Don’t respond to or click on pop-up windows on your phone or computer.
  5. Don’t conduct any transaction involving personal information while using a public (or unsecured) network

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